KINGSTON, Jamaica, Friday September 28, 2012 – A manhunt is underway and more security and support personnel have been deployed in St James where a gang of armed men are reported to have raped five women including an eight-year-old girl on Tuesday.
The gunmen are said to have broken into the victims’ homes in the Irvin community on the outskirts of the second city of Montego Bay in the early hours of the morning.
The victims, ranging in age from eight to 28 years, were raped repeatedly and the eight-year-old girl underwent emergency surgery following the attack, according to reports.
On Wednesday, National Security Minister Peter Bunting deplored the rape of the eight-year-old and described the rape of the women as an abhorrent, repulsive act of criminality on the most vulnerable in the society. He added that it was unacceptable to inflict any form of brutal violation on any individual in such a beastly manner.
The minister met with Police Commissioner Owen Ellington and the Chief of Defence Staff Major General Anthony Anderson and according to a statement issued afterwards a senior team from the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse will join the St James investigators, providing support and other services.
“The Commissioner of Police has given the undertaking that a sustained security presence will be maintained in the communities, and all capabilities, including personnel from the Canine Division and Forensics will be sent to St James immediately,” Bunting said.
The minister emphasized that all the necessary resources of the security forces would be used to arrest those responsible for the crime and that investigators will go house-to-house as they probe the incidents.
“These men live somewhere and there are persons right now who know who they are, and know of the heinous acts they have committed; they need to turn these criminals in to the police,” he said.
Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller, who was in New York attending the General Assembly of the United Nations at the time of the incident, has condemned the crime.
“Such acts of savagery against the country’s women and girls are intolerable,” the prime minister said in a statement, urging witnesses to help the police in their investigations.
Meanwhile, the Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP) spokesperson on Gender Affairs Olivia Grange has described the episode as one of the most “shocking, horrific and despicable” crimes committed against Jamaican women.
In adding their voices to the outcry, the opposition spokesman on National Security Delroy Chuck and Member of Parliament for the area Ed Bartlett also expressed outrage and called on residents to cooperate fully with the police in ensuring that those involved are brought to justice.